This month’s “Gadget” is not an electronic device. It’s an online tool I’m sure you’ll be interested in checking out. RescueTime is a web application that tracks where you spend your time while working on your PC and then reports how productive you are based on what you consider productive time. Want to know how much time you REALLY spend checking e-mail, watching YouTube videos or on Facebook? RescueTime will tell you. After you’ve let it collect some data, you can go back to the site and tag various activities such as “work” or “fun time” to better track where your time is going every day. You can also set goals for yourself on how much productive versus unproductive time you should be spending every day and get notifications when you aren’t hitting your goals. They offer a free version you can download or a paid version that will track the productivity of your employees or a team of people.
No, that’s not a typo! Stuart Hughes, the British jeweler known for his expensive remakes of popular gadgets, is at it again, this time with a diamond-clad iPhone 4 with a price tag of 5 million pounds, or roughly $8 million US dollars. The handmade bezel contains approximately 500 individual flawless diamonds that total more than 100 carats. There’s 53 additional diamonds in the back and the main navigation button is made of platinum, holding a single cut 7.4 carat pink diamond. Only two of these will ever be made, so don’t worry: if you buy one, the chances of bumping into someone at a party who has the exact same phone are quite slim. However, you might want to invest in a bullet-proof case to protect it!
Science That Makes You Laugh…Or Wonder? Nobel Prizes are awarded for only the most serious scientific achievements; the “Ig Nobel” Prizes, on the other hand, are awarded for the most unusual, although sometimes still legitimate, scientific achievements. The awards are the brainchild of editor and co-founder Marc Abrahams, whose magazine is called “The Annals of Improbably Research,” and whose web site is www.improb.com . Past awards have gone to researchers who: Gave hamsters Viagra and discovered it prevented them from suffering jet lag Looked at sword swallowing and its side affects on the human body Created a “bottomless” bowl of soup which proved Americans eat as long as there is food in front of them, not just until they are full Found that wrinkles in sheets are replicated in human and animal skin Created a device which dropped a net over bank robbers Explored why woodpeckers don’t get headaches Looked into what would happen to clams that were fed Prozac Asked why spaghetti breaks into more than two pieces Queried why birds were not pooping on a statue Levitated a frog, pieces of fruit and a grasshopper
Much like laundry and bills, no matter how much you try to keep up, e-mails just keep piling up in your inbox. E-mail is a critical part of your day-to-day work, so how do you keep it from becoming a distraction while balancing the things you really need to address? Here are 6 tips: Zero your inbox. Do you remember the last time your inbox was empty? Probably never; that’s because it costs nothing to keep an e-mail and therefore you don’t delete items “just in case” you need them at some point. This really causes messages to pile up FAST. Truth be told, you really DON’T need all those e-mails. Make it a goal to “zero” your inbox every week, particularly on a Friday before you leave for home. If you can’t “zero” it, at least get the number down to fewer than a dozen critical messages you absolutely need to work on within the next 2-3 days. Use folders sparingly. Only set up key, strategic folders or you’ll end up with dozens of folders filled with messages in addition to a massive number of messages in your inbox. You might keep one labeled as “storage” for any non-urgent messages that may need to be referenced at a later date. This keeps your inbox free of clutter and helps you more easily find something in an old message when it is needed. Delete first, read the surviving messages later. Many of the e-mails you get probably aren’t even worth reading. Start your day by immediately deleting these emails before you even start to open and read the important ones. Take action immediately. Probably the most helpful way to keep your inbox uncluttered is to take action right away on all messages instead of reading them and then going back to them later when you have time to process the message properly. By taking action right away you avoid wasting time re-reading messages. If it does require a follow up that you don’t have time for, file the message and mark a reminder to follow up. Otherwise forward it, delete it or file it into a folder Slow your roll. Your e-mail can be a constant distraction through your workday, IF you let it! Take control and set aside “e-mail free” time periods throughout the day so you can truly concentrate on projects without interruption. The world won’t stop if you don’t check your email every few minutes, I promise. Install a GOOD spam filter. The vast majority of messages are unwanted spam, some of which contain viruses. But not all spam filters are created equal!
Attention all pet lovers! Have you ever wondered what your pet sees and does when you’re away? Does he nap or get into all sorts of mischief? Clip on Uncle Milton’s Pet’s Eye View camera and find out! You can choose between 1, 5, or 15-minute intervals for your pictures. The photos are taken automatically and can be uploaded to your PC or Mac via the included USB cable for easy viewing. It’s lightweight, compact and simply clips right onto your pet’s collar! Auto-interval photo settings Internal memory stores up to 40 photos 640 x 480 resolution for 4″ x 6″ prints PC and Mac compatible Includes USB cable for uploading photos Includes rechargeable Lithium-ion 100 mAh battery. Collar and the subsequent dog training you might discover you need are not included.
According to an article in Network Computing Magazine, British Intelligence is using text-messaging spam as part of their PsyOps campaign to defeat the Taliban. When they discover a Taliban fighter’s cell phone number, they bombard it with spam messages such as “We know who you are, give up,” and other demoralizing messages. They also send wrong information by pretending to be other Taliban fighters. The logic? Spam tends to enrage the user receiving it. Is it working? There was no report of the results, although I would imagine the Brits are having a good laugh over this. The BIG Cost Of A Tiny Typo A casino in Illinois wanted to reward its best customers and get them to come back for a repeat visit. To get this done they mailed out 11,000 coupons which included a few featuring cash prizes of $525. But thanks to the mistake of a third party printing company, ALL 11,000 coupons were printed with the same cash offer, obligating the casino to a total payout of $5.8 million dollars in prizes. Although the contest rules included a disclaimer giving the casino the option to change or cancel the offer, the Illinois Gaming Board ordered the casino to honor the coupons. Now there’s one marketing campaign that had the owners of the casino praying for a poor response!
(Something You’ll RUSH To Do Once You Read This Survey That Reveals Just How Dirty Your Keyboard Is!) Since there’s a holiday or month for just about every cause imaginable, it should come as no surprise that cleaning your PC now has its own official month, awarded by none other than “The Vinegar Institute.” But before you dismiss this one, consider this little factoid: ABC news reported that a study in England revealed that the average office keyboard had bacteria and germ levels up to five times higher than those commonly found on a toilet seat. The study, headed up by Dr. James Francis, a British microbiologist, took culture samples from 33 office keyboards in London, and compared these samples to swabs taken from toilet seats in the same office buildings, containing nasty germs such as e-coli and staph bacteria. Kinda gives new meaning to the term, “computer virus!” So how do you not only disinfect your keyboard but also get those annoying smudges and fingerprints off your monitor? Here are a few tips: Turn off the monitor. It’s not required, but it makes smudges and smears easier to see. Use a compressed air to get rid of light dust buildup in your keyboard and screen. Never use a dish rag or paper towel to clean your monitor since they can scratch the screen; and you never want to use water on your keyboard! Don’t use products with ethyl alcohol or ammonia based products to clean your monitor. Products like Windex can yellow flat-screen or laptop monitors. Instead, use a cleaning product designed for monitors and use a lint-free cloth designed for the job. Note: Each monitor manufacturer has its own special instructions for cleaning so make sure you read what those are before attempting to clean up anything. Lightly moisten your cloth with rubbing alcohol or cleaning solution to wipe off your mouse or keyboard areas. Never apply the liquid directly to the screen, keyboard or other electronic parts. A Q-tip dipped in alcohol will quickly clean your keyboard. Just make sure you don’t drip the liquid down between the keys. Free Gift: Refer a potential new client to us during the month of January and get a FREE computer cleaning kit!
Thanks to smart phone technology, it seems like everyone is “plugged in” to 24/7 web access, texting, and e-mail; not to mention phone conversations. In some cases, people have become so addicted to their phones that they’re texting constantly, even while driving, having dinner with their families or using the bathroom! Clearly these devices can become a major distraction at work, causing major problems with productivity, especially if you want your staff to be focused on getting critical projects completed accurately and on time. But mandating a “no cell phone” policy may be too harsh. So where’s the balance? Here are a few tips: Implement a personal cell phone usage policy in writing. Taking a personal call from the daycare about a sick child may be acceptable, but spending 3 hours plus organizing a wedding is not. This should include certain etiquette rules, such as turning the ringer off during meetings or speaking softly to avoid disrupting others. If possible, get your employees involved in creating the policy; explain why you are doing it and that you want to make it fair and reasonable. Usually there are only a small percentage of employees who truly abuse the system, so you’ll find most employees will be on board with the policy and happy to provide input. Post this policy throughout the office as a reminder. Review this policy with each employee and have them sign it. Provide some flexibility for those in unusual circumstances, such as an employee with a sick child or with a recent death in the family. Enforce the policy so everyone knows you are serious about it. One of the best ways for management to do this is by walking around. Since personal cell phones are not connected to the company’s network, you really won’t know if anyone is violating the policy unless you physically walk around to check on them from time to time. Lead by example! Don’t expect your employees to stay off their cell phones if you are constantly texting and talking on yours. Attention: Your cell phone policy can be included in your AUP (acceptable usage policy) that directs how employees may or may not use company resources (Internet, e-mail, etc.). For more help in creating these policies, contact our office!
The new HP ePrint lets you print documents and images from virtually any PC or phone simply by e-mailing them to your printer. If you can send an e-mail, you can use ePrint. Here’s how it works: First, you assign an email address to your printer and connect it to the Internet through either a wireless or wired connection. To print something, simply send an email containing your document to your printer’s address – it’s that simple! You can print images, Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, and photos. You can view and manage print jobs sent to your printer using your printer Job History that is available on HP’s ePrintCenter. One downside is that some documents printed with ePrint may appear different from the original in style, formatting and text flow. For documents that need to be printed with a higher quality (such as legal documents), you might want to go the traditional way of printing directly from your PC. The HP ePrint service is available free of charge with your HP ePrint-enabled printer and doesn’t require any special software or smart phone apps to work.
Admit it; you have some bad habits when it comes to maintaining the security and “health” of the high-tech tools you dearly depend on. Since it’s a fresh, new year, we thought it would be appropriate to point out the top 5 bad habits you should work on fixing in 2011. Not backing up your data. Funny how most people start their confession of not backing up their data with the words, “I know it’s bad, but…” If you know, then why are you still doing it? There’s absolutely no good reason to let this one continue. Call us and we’ll hook you up with a solid backup plan that will make sure you can be back up and running again FAST. Relying on tape drives to backup your data. This is almost as bad as bad habit #1. Why? Because tape drives have an average failure rate of 100% – and that’s not a typo. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” is your tape drive going to fail. Trash ’em and get a better system in place! Using weak passwords. If you’ve ever used the word “password” as your password, we’re talking to you! A good password should contain a combination of numbers and upper and lower case letters. Not installing the latest security patches and software updates. Once a new patch is released by a software vendor, it acts like a green light for hackers who instantly implement viruses and scams to take advantage of those individuals who don’t regularly update (patch) their system. Printing and storing paper documents for everything. The cost of installing a document imaging (also called document management) solution has come down dramatically, and it is now easier than ever to implement. Plus you get the added benefits of saved storage space, saved time in searching for documents, instant access to any paper file via the Internet, fewer lost files, less chance of losing critical documents to fire, water, or wear and tear, AND a cost saving on paper and ink. With all these benefits, why on earth would you still stick to your Stone Age paper filing system? Want help in breaking any of these bad habits? Call today for a no-obligation, no-pressure consultation on how we can help you break these bad high-tech habits for good!